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Egotist to Altruist – a post from Christmas 2009, but still relevant today!

December 2nd, 2014 No comments

Well we’re just a few weeks away from Christmas and our thoughts turn to giving and sharing – love and joy with the people we value most, our families, friends, colleagues and associates. But I’m not going to give you all that old slush – you know it already!! Besides if you need a reminder, just turn to the words of one of Cliff Richard’s countless Christmas hits, or anyone else’s for that matter.

No, instead I want you to think about the spirit of Christmas, giving and sharing, for the whole of the year – not just at the end of December, at the end of what has been a particularly challenging year. Think about this altruism as a part of your strategy and even business plan for 2010.

I’m getting a lot of email marketing coming through now from all sorts of business coaches asking me if I’ve prepared for growth in 2010, if I have a robust business plan to help me to “survive and thrive” and even my own strap-line for next year – “thrive again in 2010!”

I received one business newsletter today, which prompted me to dig up the draft of this blog and actually post it. So, let me start by telling you a little story…..

(But first – Please don’t read on if colourful language offends, because as I embark on writing this, I can’t guarantee that my passion won’t cause the odd choice word to creep in.)

It was a cold and dreary night – February 2000. My mum gave up her battle with cancer and fell peacefully into a morphine aided sleep, with her loving children and grandchildren (my kids) close by – she was 52 years old. All at once my world fell apart – but as a Dad, husband and a boss at work I had to “crack on” and get on with life. As we reach the 10th anniversary I can look back now and realise that my grief has stayed with me throughout that time – not outwardly of course, but every birthday, Christmas – and most bizarrely with every new car or house I bought! (what are you talking about – I hear you cry).

My Mum struggled all her life to provide us kids with a good life – we never had flash cars, foreign holidays or even a home that she owned, but we never wanted for anything – least of all love, she always put us first (Dad was there too, but that’s a different story). She was a true altruist.

The minute I started work – in the motor trade – I was surrounded by the very things we never had as kids, flash cars, a bit of money etc etc. Now, I’ve been very lucky, made some great career choices, some good business decisions and been blessed with the rewards – great, because as a youth of the 1980’s – one of “Thatcher’s youth” my mentality has been around money, cars, houses, possessions – in other words all the outward egotistical signs of success. What a load of bollocks!

So, bizzarely, in my sub-conscious somewhere has been a desire to show my parents just how well I was doing in the hope it would make them proud – in my efforts, I probably tried far too hard and in their eyes came across as an egotistical little twat! And, they were probably right. I realize now that they’d have been just as proud if I swept streets or stacked shelves for a living.

Now, it’s fair to say, this year has been crap! The economy, the weather, the media etc etc And to cap it all we have the release of films like 2012 to really cheer us up!! But, in April of this year I was handed a fantastic opportunity to begin working on hospital radio – great I thought – being an egotistical little twat who likes the sound of his own voice – right up my street!!

What I didn’t know, was that this work is not about just being funny, chatting on air and playing records OH NO!! Before that we walk round the wards talking to patients and getting requests. Now the hospital wards are not full of actors in neat gowns like on House, Holby City or Carry On Doctor – no they are full of people who are very ill – there are signs of blood, mess, tears, pipes coming from places you don’t want to think about, pain and suffering. And, most heart wrenchingly for me – sheer loneliness by some. Just this week we had one little old guy who wanted to talk and give us his life story – he was in his 80’s and has no family and faces Christmas alone or in hospital.

So, in thinking about that I decided to take a long hard look at what’s important – the car NO, the house NO, the branded clothes NO, the property portfolio NO. Love of a family YES!! Health YES, Happiness YES (you may need to work on that a bit – I have!). And be grateful for what you have – a roof over your head, enough money to buy food and great people around you.

This thinking has also helped me to define my purpose, and it is simply this;

“to add value to everyone I meet – and make a difference in the world!”

Having that clearly defined has transformed the way I work, interact with others and approach business – and it’s working!!

I also sold my big executive car and gone for a small, eco friendly sporty looking number – and it feels great!! And actually, my mum would have loved it!

Prior to the start of this renewed thought process, I spoke to our family Doctor who told me he has a great remedy for people who think they are depressed or feeling down – it’s called “get a grip!” – fantastic advice, and clearly not for the truly clinically depressed – but a great shove from a pro for all those who like me earlier this year were feeling a little too sorry for themselves!!

So, I’m now back on top form and in fighting spirit – but with a big difference, I don’t give a toss anymore about outward, egotistical signs of success, I am now concentrating my efforts on adding value and helping others, and it feels fantastic and is very rewarding!

I met with a great lady a few weeks ago who works for a hospice – when we agreed to meet, I for some reason, didn’t realize it would be in the hospice itself, so that was a surprise (and bought back some memories). During our conversation we talked about challenges and the occasional bad day – and she told me that one of their volunteer (yes largely staffed by volunteers!!) receptionists asks her on her way out each evening “did you have a good day?”, if my lady replies with anything negative, the receptionist holds up the current patient list and simply asks “do you want to swap?”

But back to that newsletter I received today! This guy, an international consultant, sends out a quarterly newsletter to promote his business. Nothing wrong in that, good idea in fact! However, it’s full of stories of what he’s done, where he’s been, top flight people he’s met, talks he’s given at this big corporate or that big University – I just wonder, who really gives a shit! I’d rather see something in there that adds a little value, business tips, help and advice etc.

After receiving his last newsletter, I bounced it off a friend of mine who said that this guy doesn’t care what the content is, as long as it lands in people’s inboxes – ummm! I could buy into that before – when I was an egotistical twat!

So, I actually feel sorry for this guy, because I wonder who he’s trying to impress – deep down in his subconscious???

I just remember the words I said at my mum’s funeral;

“we remember a life of love, giving and caring for others – in 100 years from now, it won’t matter what car you drove, where you lived or how much money you had – but it will matter that you were important in the life of a child!”

So, being an Altruist is not just for Christmas – it’s a way of life!

Have a fantastic Christmas!

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Count Your Blessings – Every Element in Sight

April 5th, 2010 2 comments

How many blessings does one man need? 

Impulsive, spontaneous, creative, bright, energetic, enthusiastic, easily distracted – yep that all sounds familiar – a lot like me in fact!! Closely aligned to those traits though I tend to be reflective, considered, a deep thinker and compassionate (and prone to bouts of “worrying” at an Olympic Gold Medal standard!) – people and relationships are massively important to me.

 So, what does that mean? Well these, I’ve learned are my behavioural preferences and strongest traits – Fire and Water, under the TetraMap scale (see footnote). Although I can be, I’m least like the other traits of Earth (results and outcomes driven, firm and direct) and Air (orderly, processed oriented and structured) – so, knowing this has helped me to understand why am I like what I’m like and how / why I’ve done some of the things I’ve done.

 Let me explain a little more;

 As I write this blog posting, I am sitting on the balcony of our apartment in Turkey, it’s 28degrees (although a good breeze makes it feel cooler), there are just a few fluffy clouds in the vast blue sky, the Pine and Tamarisk trees are obvious through their post winter green foliage and their scent on the breeze. Across our vista I can see the lush green, hilly landscape leading down to the waters of Lake Tuzla, with the Pelicans and last few remaining Flamingos (before they jet off to the cooler waters of South Africa for the summer) feeding leisurely in the warm sunshine.

 In fact in every way it’s the perfect scene – how a child or anyone would innocently draw the perfect scene. In a spooky yet almost designed by fate kind of way, the scene is exactly that of the TetraMap vista, within the unique behavioural model, used to demonstrate how the elements of nature can be used as a metaphor for who we are. I can see the firm hills and mountains (earth) under a clear blue sky (air), a calm deep lake (water) all brightly lit by a warming sun (fire) – take one of these elements away and it no longer works – either as a metaphor or a stunning vista.

 However, it was the overriding trait of impulsiveness, a great idea, “yeah let’s do it”, which drove this decision (to buy here) – from a gut feel around the location. On the plane home (3 years ago) the reflector kicked in and starting to question the rationale and thinking, rapidly followed by the weaker process, logic and results traits coming in to help with rationalising the decision.

 Since then of course we’ve had the global downturn, the problems with the Euro, the fact that few properties are selling and everyone’s feeling the pinch, it’s no wonder then that my lower traits are trying to over-rule my excitable preference – end result A LOT and I mean a LOT of internal self talk and questioning (much of which is not very positive).

 But, as per previous blogs – I find that I’m now pinching myself back into reality, because I have all my limbs, fingers and toes, a fully functioning body, a loving wife, wonderful kids, money in the bank and a beautiful place to escape to in the sun – so if all I have to worry about is occasional fights with myself over being impetuous and irrational, then I do need to realise just how many blessings I really have.

Lesson learned though – value your own strong traits and what makes you what you are – but be prepared to listen and adapt and change to embrace the other traits too. I personally think that this current global situation is making many people re-think and re-align their behaviours. But whether you’re ruled by your gut feel (like me) your heart (like me) your logic and reasoning or your ability to focus on results – follow what’s right for you, be happy and count all of your blessings.

 And for the worriers like me, listen to Robbie Williams’ lyrics;

 “the morning brings a mystery, the evening makes it history – how do you rate the morning sun?”


TetraMap is one of the most intuitive and inspirational behavioural models available in the world of people development today and in its foundation is the combination of natural elements, which help us to identify with ourselves (our behaviours), identify with others (understand their behaviours) and be able to adapt and flex in order to create and work within a world that embraces and accepts the diversity and divergence of personalities and styles.

 I’ve been working with it now for over a year and I’m still taken every time I use it, by its simplistic brilliance and how within minutes people are not only awakening to their own styles but diving in to understanding others too – then, most powerfully, making commitments to adapt and flex their styles.

 We are using it with teams and individuals from sales, management, education, public and private sector and businesses small and large across global markets.

 So, wherever I am in the world, working with TetraMap and facilitating some great groups of people through a development session, I look at the TetraMap picture and I’m immediately transported back to this wonderful place in Turkey – home is where the heart is, I guess!.

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Get a Grip! Use social media.

October 25th, 2009 No comments

I’ve not blogged for a while, as I’ve been redefining my strategy, off-loading some of the distracting (sometimes negative) influences I’ve had around my business and got my direction back on the track that’s been my driving force. So, this blog, may seem a little “not practicing what one preaches” so view it as a kind of “note to self!”

Oh, I’ve also taken the last blog seriously and spent a good time with my sons during a period of transition in our lives – I now feel energized, refreshed and ready to go – ready for all the great stuff that’s now coming my way. Anyway, back to this social media thingy;

Having had an amazingly good two and a half years delivering business all over the place (UK, Europe and the Middle East) I was introduced to the need to explore all marketing channels earlier this year when things started to go a little, er, as you might say “Pete Tong”. Having not been a great networker or explored too many contacts outside my main area of focus (the motor trade – ouch!!) I found myself having a fair bit of time to reflect on that strategy.

A great friend of mine introduced me to Twitter, blogging, Facebook and Linkedin. And his help managed to get me top 5 rankings in Google – if you google my name that is!! But, most importantly, as I began mid-year to “put myself about” a lot more I found both my web presence and my face to face contacts were doing a great job of raising my profile. Funny that.

Clearly I wished I’d started that 2 years ago – but I fell foul of being really busy, earning loads and thinking how great life was – then came Le Crunch de Credite (as the French call it!) and my stack of cards duly began falling down! So, quick Robin – to the blogmobile! I began blogging, then tweeting about my blog posts and the phone never stopped………………..being a phone that sat silently on my desk!

But being a tenacious bloke (most of the time), I carried on relentlessly – I went to no end of morning network meetings (I’m now sick of cooked breakfasts and have more cards for printers, graphic designers, life coaches, recruiters and IFAs than I care to mention). I joined the Customer Service Training Association – brilliant! One quarterly meeting and I’ve already had three strong leads and tied up with four associates as a result (contact me for more info on CSTA).

Equally though, and here’s my point (eventually) I’ve worked hard at building a Linkedin profile and gathering many connections – because everytime you update it, comment on a group etc, make a new connection, your contacts get an update – therefore, keeping your name high in their line of sight! Also, Linkedin pofiles do figure highly on google searches. (I’m on Linkedin as Stephen J.Whitton (all invites accepted) btw!!). It’s also helped me to retain a very high level of self motivation – because (and I really don’t mean to sound egotistical) I’m constantly updating the web on all the positive stuff I’m doing – again, like a “note to self”

But, what’s got me hooked recently and confirmed the benefits of the time spent on it – was a conversation on Facebook (in the chat section) with my cousin about 6 weeks ago – we got onto the subject of work and what we’re both doing now. I mentioned great training (like you do) and she responded with “you should speak to our HR – our training’s s**t!” Of course, an email to the person in HR promptly followed, a response was immediate, a meeting happened within a week and last week I sealed the deal on the first piece of work with them for December – it’s a District Council with a good budget, a progressive HR team (all new) and a big requirement for 2010!! Timing couldn’t have been better.

So, to finish a long story, I’m now hooked on Social Media (well Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook) as absolute must haves for the modern trainer, freelancer, self-employed or business person. But would suggest defining your strategy in terms of how you’ll use this media to “warm up” contacts for you to meet up with – as that’s where the business will ultimately be done! I still can’t believe though, the sheer number of corporate based people who can’t or won’t grasp the nettle and I’m staggered how the Motor Industry still seems to take a “don’t try to tell my how I can connect with lots of people – can’t you see I’m trying to sell some cars here!!” Umm – some work to be done here methinks!

Please feel free to get in touch, send a private message or join me on Linkedin to discuss further. A big thanks to those who helped me with this strategy and realising what it is I’m about.

Keep shining.

Ummm! What should I do now?

May 17th, 2009 2 comments

As the UK’s “mental health” week draws to a close, I wonder if there are more Dads out there like me?

Having married young we decided to have kids within a couple of years – net result, I’m now in my early forties and my kids are grown up – 18 and 16!

One’s off to Uni in September and the other is a typical 16 year old who’s never in. So, given that lots of guys my age are still changing nappies, enjoying playful bath-times and pushing swings – oh and enjoying the fruits of this in the form of that fabulous cry of “daddy, daddy” that comes with the charge up the hallway of the little rugrats, upon returning home – I ask myself the question, “what do I do now?”

I link this to mental health week as I can certainly feel the tension of one son leaving home and the other desperate for a motorbike (more worry there then!) as this will bring about a significant change in my life which has been expected but nonetheless has come round really quickly.

Sure there are many fab times we enjoy together and the guys have definitely become my great mates as well as the things I am most proud of and feel I’ve succeeded in. They don’t do drugs, drink or smoke. They’ve never got into trouble, broken windows or vandalised anything. They speak well, are well educated, have great moral and ethical values, dress well and are both very popular with little, if any, confidence issues – they have great futures ahead of them, and I can see the “green shoots” of their independent lives pushing firmly through the soil of family life now!

But what about me? I have plenty more energy, more stories to read and I never did finish the third series of Postman Pat videos!  I really miss walking down the road holding their hands, supervising road crossings and those school gate hugs that weren’t embarrasing or “uncool”. This has instead been replaced by an overwhelming sense of pride and achievement when I walk shoulder to shoulder with these two bright, good looking young men that have the world in front of them.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not broody or looking for those long dark nights of midnight feeds again (definitely not!), but this significant change has made me realise that the issues I’ve been feeling of late about lack of purpose etc could be as a result of realising that my time as provider, hunter, farmer, pillar of security and stability are coming to a close.

So, what do I do now that everything is taking on a new meaning? So, in a similar psychological way to people getting the “baby blues” (without the hormonal imbalances obviously) I believe there is such a thing as “Post Daddy Depression”. This is not helped when you’re a soppy sod like me who clings on to the past and worries for everyone else.

Sure I’ve got so much to be grateful for and some would say I’m just feeling sorry for myself (probably a bit), but equally there is still a feeling of a hole opening up (well more of a blank space really).

Anyway, off to open a fresh box of tissues (or tooeys as our eldest used to call them when he was a toddler) and pile into a PS3 game with Son #2.

Every opportunity counts now!

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Walking the tighrope – or not falling off?

April 14th, 2009 No comments

This arrived in my inbox today, so thought I’d share it – it’s very appropriate!

Entertaining some friends recently, we retired to the lounge where my friend’s son was playing a video game. The game involved his character ‘balancing’ on a tightrope and crossing a chasm between two buildings. His character was operated through a ‘balance board’ at his feet. As you can imagine, it wasn’t long before the ‘grown ups’ in the room eagerly stepped up to ‘show’ the boy how it should be done! What soon followed was a series of disastrous attempts to cross the chasm, each with increasingly elaborate ‘explanations’ and ‘reasons’ for our lack of success. Time after time, each of us replicated exactly the same mistake – as our character teetered to the left, we countered this by leaning over to the right. Rather than regaining our balance, what typically happened was that our character would lean over at exactly the same angle, this time to the right. By imagining the worst case scenario (We fall off the left side of the rope), we over-compensated to get ourselves as far away from danger as possible and therefore placed ourselves in the equal and opposite place. This radical swinging from one problem to another is something I encounter frequently when coaching.


“Every problem was once a solution to a previous problem.”

That same evening the national news had the now familiar focus on economic doom and gloom throughout the UK. Typically, the news article was followed by interviews with people describing how they will need to work longer hours or get second jobs to make ends meet. Seeing these stories reminded me of the tightrope walk. Hearing news of economic hard times, people visualise the worst case scenario and over compensate. We withdraw our money from financial institutions (further adding to the problem) work longer hours (increasing stress levels and fatigue) and make radical cost savings within our organisations (again adding to national statistics.) Think back a few years to the first mention of fuel shortages. Petrol forecourts become inundated with people panic buying precious fuel – only adding further to the supply issue.

 What’s needed? Focus. This was the difference in success between the grown ups and the boy. Our focus upon not falling off the rope lead us to overcompensate whilst, the boy’s focus upon staying on the rope lead to an entirely different outcome. And truth be told, it wasn’t the thought of falling off which most scared the grown ups, it was the thought of how falling off would make us feel which caused most anxiety. So, a couple of questions for you:

What are you focussing upon now?


? Not losing your job?


?Not having enough money / time etc?


?Not having something / someone special in your life?


And is it a genuine fear of the event happening or the fear of how you might feel should that become reality?

For example, most of us would be concerned at least with the thought of redundancy. Ask yourself “Am I more scared of ‘being made redundant’ or of the feelings of inadequacy, failure or loss that redundancy may bring?”

Now in our current economic climate, cutbacks, longer hours and even redundancies may be the answer, but before you head over that side of the rope, stop and ask yourself how much of this is genuine intelligent focus, and how much is over-compensation?

Today’s lesson from a boy aged 5 ½:


Notice when things are out of balance for you




Regain your balance by realigning with your outcomes


Move forward


Call to action

Regain your balance!

Take time today to focus and realign yourself. Re-commit to what’s really important to you.


If you could redesign your life/career, what changes would you make?


What could you do today, or better still what could you do RIGHT NOW to get you one step closer to your vision?

Take action!

Need Some help? Would you like to discuss any of these issues in confidence and start your focussed tightrope walk? Give us a call for a chat +44 (0)7832 340407walking the tightrope

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The Battle of Fiscal and Focal Stimulus

April 6th, 2009 No comments

The evil of recession has captured many people’s hearts and minds.

Having regenerated as The Doctor, I am leaving the world of Corpor8 and helping the Fukarwe people to re-strategise their business lives – reverse the polarity of the moodhoover flow – in other words!

These poor people are at the mercy of negative news and views and the insecurities it creates – they can be heard around the corridors of Corpor8 most days chanting “we’re the fukarwe?” “we’re the fukarwe?”

There are a bunch of new ideas and strategies to address this – contact us for the Doctor to visit your conference, meeting or just for some help!

Overcome the damage and fear  - let your business live again!

Overcome the damage and fear - let your business live again!

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Stuck in the Bottle Neck

April 3rd, 2009 No comments

Great News! My blog of March 2 / 2009 has been published as an article in the magazine of the Institute of the Motor Industry – MIM.

Really timely that, because this week gave me the opportunity to visit a new potential client and discuss management coaching and development. And although they have some great systems in place, they still suffer with the same issues of Middle Management being stuck due to lack of skill, competence, development or direction and purpose.

This has helped hugely, because it enables us to properly position SSW Monitor as the great coaching measurement tool that it is.


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Time for a Change?

March 20th, 2009 No comments

It has been widely publicised that the motor industry (not just in the UK) has been hit hardest and fastest by the current economic downturn.

There was a great article today in one of the trade newsletters that stated the motor industry should be very conversant with “quantitative easing” – the Bank of England’s latest effort to pump money into the economy, by creating it out of thin air – as for years the car manufacturers have created used cars out of thin air through their own quantitative easing – otherwise known as self registrations!

This has been brilliant for those of us that want to bag a nearly new car for much less than its new price – but has caused issues further down the chain in the used car market. The inference being of course that look at where it’s ended up – a business model that cannot continue. Of course I know there are many other factors too.

This is before I harp on (again) about the poor practices, bad habits and lack of discipline that has been shown in some quarters by sales staff and their management.

So, surely it must now be time for a change? Time to start doing stuff that helps the business and economy? Start creating realistic expectations! Start innovating and doing things differently! Start developing good habits again! Start behaving nicely towards each other! Start believing in ourselves again! Start spending some money – it makes you feel good and is good for the economy (not on a credit card though!)! Start thinking positively (note to self on that one!). Start treating customers the way THEY want to be treated! etc etc etc. 

I’m starting by a family shopping trip tomorrow (my wife’s chosen Watford for some reason!). Might see you there!

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